AFP / File / Daniel LEAL-OLIVAS
“European Commission Chief Jean-Claude Juncker’s Spokesman Margarites Schinas said on Twitter
EU, British and Irish negotiators were at work on Thursday night in search of a Brexit divorce deal, with the European Commission saying some “progress” had been made. British Prime Minister Theresa May to Jean-Claude Juncker to seal an agreement agreement said they were “not there yet.”
Despite frantic phone diplomacy on Thursday, the UK has had more problems with the chances of having a Northern Irish party. The frenetic talks come ahead of a Sunday deadline for Britain to finalize their divorce from the European Union so they can be approved by the EU leaders summit on December 14-15. “Talks are continuing through the night,” Juncker’s Spokesman Margaritis Schinas said on Twitter. “Tonight more than ever, stay tuned.” European Council President Donald Tusk has also made a statement giving a “situational update” on Brexit at 0650 GMT on Friday, before heading to Hungary, adding to the feverish speculation about a deal. Juncker spoke first with Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar then on a deadlock over the wording of a deal on future arrangements for the Irish border. – ‘Not there yet’ – The EU insists on the making of progress on the Irish frontier, on the United States, and on the rights of European citizens in Britain before the second phase of negotiations. Those would have a transition to a period of two years after Britain leaves the block on March 29, 2019, and a future EU-UK trade deal. But talks between May and Juncker in Brussels on Monday broke up after the pro-British DUP party in Northern Ireland that props up the British leader’s government objected to a clause in the deal. The wording had said that British-ruled Northern Ireland would be in “alignment” with EU rules to avoid a hard border with the Republic of Ireland, as Dublin insists. “Speaking about taking forward the Brexit process is ongoing,” spokesman for May’s downing street office said, “We’re not there yet.” DUP chief whip Jeffrey Donaldson said: “Discussions are ongoing.” The European Commission had earlier Thursday set a deadline of Sunday for May to reach a deal on divorce terms so they can be approved by member states in time for the summit. – ‘Totally and utterly incompetent’ – Earlier Thursday, Schinas dismissed British newspaper reports that the Sunday deadline could be extended into “not correct” But EU sources said it was still possible that European leaders could agree to the summit that “sufficient progress”, in order to give May a win. Scotland’s nationalist leader showed little patience, accusing the British government of being “totally and utterly incompetent” on Brexit. First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said “the real lesson” of the past week was that Scotland “will always be at the mercy of reckless decisions taken by Tory governments at Westminster” unless it becomes independent. “The sooner we are in control of the future,” she added. Eurogroup chief Jeroen Dijsselbloem offered some calming words, saying Britain’s City of London financial hub center “will not fall apart” after Brexit even if it loses the right to allow banks to trade freely across the block Dijsselbloem, the Netherlands finance minister who chairs meetings of his counterparts in the 19-country eurozone, said that some businesses would nevertheless have to relocate. “I do not think that the city will fall apart and that I will not think that it’s going to work,” he told the European Parliament committee. His reassurances come at a time when the UK is in the process of becoming more and more important in the EU while being based in Britain.

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